Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Left behind: A doll & a lizard September 28, 2021

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Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2021.

DECADES AGO, WHEN THE SON was but a preschooler, he left his favorite teddy bear in the church nursery. Not until evening, long after church doors were locked, did the parents notice Bear Bear was missing. And then panic set in. Efforts began to retrieve the beloved bear. While I don’t recall how entry was gained—nothing illegal, I assure you—Caleb had his bear back by bed-time, much to our family’s collective relief.

Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2021.

That memory popped into my mind during a recent visit to Mission Park in Crow Wing County. There I spotted not one, but two, cherished possessions abandoned on picnic tables inside the park shelter. A doll and a lizard. Plus a bonus bottle of hand sanitizer.

Now, as most parents and even grandparents realize, losing a cherished doll or stuffed animal or blanket can cause angst, distress and unstoppable tears for a child. I empathized when I saw the two lovies and hoped whoever left them would soon retrieve them.

Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2021.

But that was not to be. A day or two later, upon returning to Mission Park to, once again, hike the trails, the three abandoned items remained, now grouped on a single picnic table.

I mentioned this to an older man working in the park. He speculated that children from a daycare (who frequent the park) left the doll and the lizard. Perhaps he’s right. I can only hope some adult remembers and returns…before winter blows in and vacationing on the Caribbean island of Curacao centers thoughts and plans.


TELL ME: I’d love to hear any stories you may have about dolls, stuffed animals and other comforts forgotten somewhere.

Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling